Hot! My “Happy Fourth!” dress

Happy Fourth!!

The Facts
: Blue plaid poly georgette, white poly lining from stash  
Pattern: McCalls 6731
Year: 1931
Notions: 1 awesome belt buckle, 1″ belting that I FINALLY found!
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: July 2012
Wear again? Yes, this coming Fourth!

Total Cost:  $15 for buckle, $6 for blue plaid so $21 total


I am a HUGE Fourth of July fan! From the actual meaning of the day to the inevitable bar-b-que or buffet of way too much food to the fireworks I just love it. Some years we’ve done the full family-friends-fun event including flag cakes and red and blue tie dyeing, some years we just stay at home and celebrate quietly. One of my favorite July 4 memories is the year we helped friends do the fireworks show for the city of Milpitis. Before they built the Great Mall there was a huge open field that they staged the show in, and we were able to stand UNDER the fireworks and let the sparks fall around us like fireflies. It was magic : )

This year we’re going to the Marin County Fair to see the photo my daughter had accepted into the competition…see if she’s won anything : ) Of course as the proud mom I have to have something to wear and as long as the day doesn’t turn 105 this is it!

The fabric is NOT cut on the bias, it’s printed that way! I found this at Joann’s in their red-tag section and waited until it went on sale half price and paid a whopping $2 a yard. I actually planned this outfit backwards. I bought this amazing belt buckle at the Alameda Flea market many months ago and knew it needed something wonderful and blue to go with it:

So what better than this bias printed plaid? And if I don’t like it I just removed the buckle from the belt and use it somewhere else. So far, however, I like it.

The pattern is one I bought a thousand years ago, I’ve used it in just about every show I’ve ever done that needs 30’s dresses. I even made a lavender silk version of this for the Gatsby picnic last fall and tried something new. It didn’t quite work with my Gatsby dress and I wasn’t sure if it didn’t work  because of the fabric or it just isn’t meant to be. This dress showed me it wasn’t meant to be. And what did I do? I flat lined the entire dress. In the case with the Gatsby dress I chose a purple silk chiffon with white polka dots for the body of the dress and a plain purple chiffon for the top. I sewed the lining and fashion fabrics as one layer so if I EVER attempt this in the future and want to line the lower dress and skirt pieces they need to be entirely separate layers. Lesson learned : )

It’s not as bad with this dress but I still found myself fiddling and adjusting through the afternoon. The pattern itself is ridiculously easy, it “should” have taken me between 2 and 3 hours to cut and stitch the entire thing.


That estimate did not take into account the Stuart factor. For some reason it became his job to make sure the fabric didn’t run away. I, on the other hand, was trying to match patterns as best I could but this is not a symmetrical print. I had to make a choice – use the back side as the front and hope the ink had saturated the fabric sufficiently when it was printed or make do with an uneven pattern. I chose the former and am just fine with it. But instead of the 30 minutes it would normally take me to cut this out it took two and a half HOURS between the print and the kitty…

And then, of course, it needed to pass the functionality test – Can I ride a bike in it?

Yes I can : )

This means I can add this to my work wardrobe since this is the bike I ride to BART every morning. I had some extra flag trimmings left over from the front porch re-decoration so I decorated my bike basket. I threw on my very cha-cha navy straw hat with the cherries and a pair of vintage navy suede pumps and away we went to the local park for photos. I actually rode my bike down there and Angie drove over with the camera so this is real life, ladies!

When I originally thought about this challenge I wanted to do pictures on my front porch and yard because I had grand plans to get things cleaned up and fixed up. Things were going along just fine until the middle of last week when, as one of my friends, Toby, would say “I gots da frow ups”. I came down with some delightful summer flu that came on quickly and, I thought, left as quickly. Turns out it just sucks your energy like a 60’s Caddy sucking down fossil fuels, quickly and completely and looking around for more. I finally got most of the front yard planted on Saturday, went inside for lunch and came out 45 minutes later to….no flowers. Mom deer had stopped by with the twins.

Hi Stuart : )

You can just see a row of purple flowers in the back and a few purple and red scattered towards the front but can you see the red geraniums, the white allyssum or two shade of purple petunias, scads of red and some scattered white? No, you can’t. But I can tell you for a few moments it was really lovely : )

I did manage to save *some* of the pots on the front steps from the lunch munch…and I knew this could happen. I was just hoping I could make it to the end of the day before covering everything in either chicken wire or bird cloth : )

Yes, this is my front porch : ) It makes me happy. Notice the flag – it is wool, has 48 stars and was a fab find at the flea market a few years ago. When I asked the price and the husband quoted $20 I couldn’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough. As I tucked the flag in my bag and started to walk away the wife asked her husband how much he sold it for… last I heard was a “discussion” starting to heat up : ) I quickly walked away and have loved it ever since.

May your day be full of good food, good friends and some sparkles. Happy Fourth everyone!!



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


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  1. The dress is pretty, the shoes are cute, the hat is great and the porch is lovely. Happy 4th!

  2. Oh Loran, This is so precious! I love your take on the vintage pattern and matching the fabric to that fab belt buckle? That’s dedication! Love your porch decor too. It’s so festive! I want to twirl sparklers in your front yard. Happy Fourth!

  3. I love your dress.Looks great on you. and oh…………that belt buckle is soooo pretty.. Looks fantastic with your “great find” fabric.. Just perfect for July 4th celebration.. Happy July Fourth!!!
    photos are pretty too.

  4. and there you are on your porch… all decked out! Looks AMAZING.

  5. love the hat…but don’t forget to wear your helmet on the bike instead! maybe you can put cherries on it? ;)

  6. Oh, how I love, love, love 1930s lines. Very nice.

  7. This dress is very flattering and pretty. I love your hat but I love your Stuart factor even more. Reminds me of my old cat Pauline I used to have – she just loved to “help” with the sewing or sleep on my lap when I was sitting at the sewing machine. Oh, and your front porch looks fabulous! My mother-in-law lives in the Bay Area but has one of those modern houses that don’t have a front porch but a garage instead…I have always loved looking at those lovely old houses with front porches.

  8. Love the dress! The ’30s silhouette suits you so well. Your front porch is fabulous, especially the flag (Hawaii and Alaska don’t want you either ;-) )

    If it helps, I don’t line (and especially not flat line) my ’30s dresses, and I’ve seen very few extent dresses that were lined. Instead I make simple bias slips to wear under them, which is how the originals were. It works so much better.

  9. Oh my goodness Loran, that dress (beautiful pattern and so glad this one is bike rideable), that cat, that bike, that beautiful beautiful belt buckle…..but most of all that porch and your decor! Amazing. I’ve been so disappointed with the lack of any July 4th decor in my neighbourhood (part of Phoenix), we’re the only house on our block with stars and stripes up….and we’re blooming British! I’m going to take inspiration from your porch decor next year….and so sorry the deer got your lovely flowers.

  10. Lovely! It looks very well fitted. And I love all your decorations, very festive :D

  11. What a wonderful post! Amazing belt buckle and the dress looks lovely on you. The Porch looks great. A happy day

  12. FABULOUS porch decor, Loran and what a festive, bike-friendly dress! You are my holiday hero.

  13. Of course I love the dress and especially the buckle but what I want to know is-did your daughter win anything? Is there any place we can see a copy of the photo?

    Your house is pretty and I love how you throw yourself into everything. Maybe that will rub off on me.

  14. If I spied you on your bike riding in that fab dress I would holla from my car window ‘You are FABULOUS!!’ Love your festive spirit. Well done Loran.